STATEWIDE - If you happened to peruse the state's newspapers over the weekend, they were filled with stories of drunken driving - which for some reason goes hand-in-hand with the official start of summer. State leaders are well aware of the deadly problem. There's a smart bill before Gov. Phil Murphy that would require drunk drivers to keep their licenses, but be forced to install ignition interlock devices in their cars that would test if they are plastered before they hit the road. Makes a lot of sense in a couple of ways: First-offenders who happen to make a dumb mistake would not face a mandatory license suspension, which affects their jobs, families and lives. And the law ensures that serial drunks stay the heck off our roads, as they would have to blow into a small breathalyzer every time they attempt to climb behind the wheel.
ON THE AIRWAVES - If you happen to be one of the eight or so New Jerseyans who still have the patience to watch commercials on television, you may notice Gov. Phil Murphy's allies have been pumping out ads in support of his millionaire's tax. It is a strategy to "go to the people," and get them rallied behind the governor's spending plan, which is much different than the Legislature's spending plan. Murphy is still trumpeting his tax on millionaires, calling out the "inside-the-Trenton bubble reality where it's been business as usual," NJ 101.5 reports. He is hoping you will see the ad, get all irate, call your local legislator and whip him/her into shape. Meanwhile, leaders in the Legislature say any tax increase, on anyone, is a bad thing, no matter if you drive a Corvette or a Civic. The rubber hits the road on June 30, the deadline to get the fiscal '20 budget passed. Finally.
ATLANTIC CITY - Wind generation is a hot topic at the Statehouse these days, and, no, it's surprisingly not another bargaining chip in all the crazy budget negotiations, you cynic. There's actually productive news, with the green light given to the construction of a big wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. NJ Spotlight is talking a $1.6 billion project, with the potential for 15,000 jobs and major economic development - the biggest offshore-wind farm in the country so far. So, definitely a game-changer. And NJ Spotlight says it isn't just a lot of hot air.
TRENTON - The local teachers' union raises a good point: Isn't it a wee bit segregationist for the school district to place 400 bi-lingual students this fall into their very own school? The union is quick to note federal policy, requiring newcomer students to be educated in the "least segregative manner." Now, you can easily see the point of the school district, working to ensure students who don't know English have some concentrated resources to still succeed in the classroom. But there's that nagging flipside: Why are we keeping recent immigrants away, tucked in the newly-created, impressive sounding "Trenton Global Academy?" School officials tell NJ.com that the current bilingual program has "significant gaps," requiring this heavy initiative. But a completely-different, alternative school? Really?
PITMAN - Ok, maybe there was too much Monday morning coffee, but we actually have an opinion about a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the South Jersey Times. (Yeah, we read that, too.) This letter writer from Pitman - let's assume he is retired, Republican and angry - blasts those fake news networks for not running President Trump's re-election speech in its entirety, calling it an "injustice" for the media to apparently ignore this sitting President, the most over-covered leader of all time.
OK, where to begin.... First, it was not a policy speech; it was a carefully-coordinated, taxpayer-funded PR stunt to use incumbency for free airtime. Both Democrats and Republicans do the same thing; it's why sitting presidents have such an advantage over the competition.
Then, this writer notes the Founding Fathers, who "realized the importance of basic truth and complete exposure to facts." Right, and the Washington Post fact-checkers found Trump's re-election speech filled with "phony numbers on trade. Unfounded claims about immigrants. False statements about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation. Fishy economic statistics and wild exaggerations about his presidential accomplishments." And, finally, this Pitman writer summarizes with this gem: "A free press is supposed to provide the option to tune in or tune out." Right, again. And in this case, this free press decided to tune out.
IN THE MEDIA
HAMILTON - We're almost at the beach - don't forget to point and laugh at the drivers from out of state stopped on the jughandle. Even though us Jersey folk may be used to driving 30 mph above the speed limit in the right lane, not everyone appreciates our state's "unique" road etiquette - just ask WBTV Charlotte reporter Kristen Hampton, a self-described "country mouse in the city" visiting for the first time. She stopped at the Woodrow Wilson Rest Area along the Turnpike to record this absolutely panic-stricken video on her impressions of the Garden State. Stay calm, Kristen - and remember: make 3 rights if you want to turn left, and for cripe's sake, stay outta that left lane.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
DORTMUND, Germany - It was all hands on deck at the Dortmund Fire Department, following the report of a baby squirrel with his head caught in a manhole cover. The crew responded at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Cops roped off the local streets, directing busy city traffic to side streets. Firefighters lifted the manhole and, with the help of other emergency responders, gingerly took the squirrel - still connected to the manhole cover - to a local veterinary clinic. There, doctors sedated the squirrel and were somehow able to wiggle it out without any major neck injuries. The squirrel remains at the clinic, under close watch, for the next few days, before it is sent back out into the city for its next adventure. Meanwhile, the manhole was reset in its proper place with limited drama or further international news coverage.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Yes, she was Lord Baltimore's niece, but that still doesn't give her a right to vote. It was this day in 1647 that Ann Calvert was booted from the Maryland Council, after she asked to cast a ballot. Women would need to wait until June 4, 1919, with the passage of the 19th Amendment, to exercise the right.
WORD OF THE DAY
Dolorous - [DOH-lə-rəs] - adjective
Definition: Causing, marked by, or expressing misery or grief
Example: With all this dolorous talk about the upcoming Rutgers football season, and the need to somehow beat Boston College in an out-of-conference game to demonstrate some improvement, maybe this is the year we just stay in the parking lot and throw on another burger.
WIT OF THE DAY
"Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it."
- Danny Kaye
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun